Marussia Virgin Racing team principal John Booth insists he never once thought about giving up on the challenge of Formula 1, despite the difficulties his outfit faced at the start of last season.
Openly admitting now that he and his team were naive about the difficulties of entering F1, Booth said that despite wing failures, hydraulics issues and a fuel tank drama, he never contemplated throwing the towel in.
"It looked impossible, didn't it?" Booth said at the launch of his team's 2011 challenger in London on Monday. "But once you start a fight, you can't stop, can you? You have to keep going. Politically, we handled it quite well. We put our heads down and just grafted – and I think by Valencia we saw a bit of light.
"Certainly by Singapore I walked out the back of the garage and that was the first time I looked up and realized where we are – we are here, we are in F1 and we feel pretty proud."
Booth says the dramas of early 2011 delivered countless lessons about what it takes to be successful in F1, but the one thing he is sure his squad got right last year is forging a strong, united staff.
"This time last year we were naive," he said. "We thought F1 was achievable the way we were doing it, and we thought it was a wonderful thing. But you soon get the wake up call, don't you?
"The lessons were endless, absolutely endless. The one thing we did get right from the start was that we put a good group of people together, and I think with a couple of exceptions the same team is there for this year.
"I am very proud how those people bonded and gelled as the year went on, and got more and more professional. So that was a big plus. As far as learning, you cannot even start to list the lessons learned."
Booth is not a man who has much time for the glamor side of F1, happily shunning the jet-set lifestyle in favor of getting his hands dirty with the team in the garage.
"Most of the other team bosses became team bosses under very different times," he said. "There is a lot of money in F1 but there was an obscene amount in the previous 10 years. But different people get enjoyment from different things. I enjoy spending time with the guys and working with them as much as possible. I am sure I get in the way and under their feet, but that is what I enjoy about it.
"F1 was massive for me. I have always enjoyed motorsports and it would have been a shame to go out of F1 after a year and not to have enjoyed it. I am not saying we were going to go out, as we are here for a long time, but it was really important to start enjoying it."
Although the new MVR-02 has not yet run on the track, Booth says the aim for the season ahead is to mix it with the more established teams, and that means regularly breaking through into Q2.
"We want to be in Q2 on a fairly regular basis and challenging for it," he said. "There was a gap last year with the six [new] cars. With the other guy who dropped out of Q1, he was still a big step away from all six of us, so we want to be there.
"And even if we are not getting to Q2 on a regular basis, if we are missing it by a tenth it will be great. There aren't any new teams any more, and is it not good enough to be top of that little pile. You need to start challenging for Q2."
Booth said he reckons that driver Timo Glock is in a better state of mind this year, having overcome reservations he had about the state of the team in the middle of last year.
"Timo is a racer, but one thing about Timo is that he pushes himself incredibly hard," said Booth. "He pushes me hard, he pushes the whole team hard and it has contributed massively to the team we have become. He is in such good spirits at the moment – he is fired up and ready to go."